My answer to this is – honesty is often not the best policy. What kind of world would we have if everybody expressed their true feelings in conversation?
To illustrate what I mean, here are some mild examples of phone conversations this long-time office worker has engaged in or heard of from colleagues. I’ve given the caller comment, the appropriate response, and what the office worker really felt like saying.
Scenario: Office based in Dublin, Ireland. A UK supplier calls
Caller: I’m calling from xx company on the mainland
Appropriate Response: Do you mean Britain?
Honesty: Did they not teach geography at your school?
Scenario: I’ve got the caller’s personal details on screen. Caller does not want to pay enrolment fee
Caller: How dare you make elderly people like me use an online payment service
Appropriate Response: I’ll transfer you to Finance who will help you
Honesty: (caller is 2 years younger than me and I AM NOT ELDERLY) – Are you tired of living?
Scenario: Caller has not engaged with the service in 12 months and was sent a reminder about this.
Caller: May to April isn’t long enough, I need a year
Appropriate Response: The xxx service calendar begins on May 1 and ends on April 30 the following year.
Honesty: Sing along with me: “Let’s do the time warp again…”
Scenario: “Elderly” caller from previous scenario has still not enrolled:
Caller: I signed up two years ago and heard nothing from you since, your service is terrible
Appropriate Response: According to our records, you started your application but never paid the enrolment fee…
Honesty: (record shows several reminders to caller over the said two years) – Liar, liar, pants on fire…
Scenario: Same Helpline:
Caller: This website is useless! I can’t access anything, I can’t locate your service …
Appropriate Response: Can you tell me the page you are looking at?
Caller: Names a competitor website
Appropriate Response: Our website is xxxxxxxxxx and the url is xxxxxxx
Honesty: Can you not read or what?
Generally speaking, office workers are required to maintain patience and remain polite when they are dealing with incoming calls. If they do not, there is a fair chance that sooner or later they will become unemployed office workers, and callers often use this against them. Before you pick up the phone to castigate some poor individual who is not allowed to give as good as they get, think about what you are going to say, and don’t act like an idiot.